end of winter mood boards

by Sharon Santoni



If I had to choose one word to describe my garden right now, I think it would be ‘confused’….   Winter has been weirdly mild: no snow, temperatures rarely below zero, and as we head through February the plants are beginning to believe that spring is on its way …

This of course is very optimistic of them, and if we get caught by late frosts and -perish the thought – snow, then they will regret their unreasonable haste.

So here for you is a selection of what is happening:  winter berries on the ivy; early daffodil buds; the first primroses; hellebore and of course the snowdrops that are wildly excited by this unseasonal sunshine.

I like to think that these mood boards are my take on the books of pressed flowers that used to be assembled with love and care, in the days when people had more time and did not long for the immediate gratification that is the lot of this blogger.

Hey ho …. sometimes you just have to say things the way they are …

wishing you a happy week ahead,

thank you for reading me.


Libby February 16, 2014 - 4:55 pm

My Hellebores haven’t even started to appear…very very late this year. We had a most unusual 5″ of snow last week, followed by ice, and now it is sunny and getting warmer…very crazy weather indeed! But I think the garden will be very slow to get going this spring.

stacey snacks February 16, 2014 - 5:06 pm

If I had one way to describe my garden, it would be “invisible”!
Le Jardin is buried under 2 feet of snow, sleeping for the winter……………..but will return soon……………..and I can not wait!!!

Nancy February 16, 2014 - 5:43 pm

I know!
The weather here is dry, dry, dry (CA) and the birds are starting their nests, the flowers are thinking it is almost summer…..
Weird weather for sure…..

Nancy February 16, 2014 - 6:31 pm

I love your writing style. It always leaves me with a smile!

Emm February 16, 2014 - 6:37 pm

Ahhhh, flowers. Sorely needed today, thanks you!, with le jardin under a foot of frozen snow that is too-slowly melting away. By now, we should have daffodils starting and other bulb plants appearing, but this year they must be very confused.

Heather in Arles February 16, 2014 - 6:42 pm

These photographs are so beautiful, Sharon. Imagine them printed in a large format on a plexy for extra depth? Just gorgeous!

Vicky from Athens February 16, 2014 - 6:47 pm

Ah spring! This time last year, here in the South, I could’ve shown you the same thing. We had very little, if any, winter weather. Not so this year. We’ve had lots of cold and we’ve had snow and ice twice within two weeks and that is most unusual for the state of Georgia! Thanks for sharing your Spring beauty today!

Marika Ujvari February 16, 2014 - 6:55 pm

I love your writing and your photos. They are all beautiful!!!

Monique February 16, 2014 - 7:22 pm

They all look like beautiful fabrics:)
I love gardens..Look at all the sweeties you have..I ahve some..but still deep under a few feet of snow..
I bet they cannot wait to rise:)

Marian from UK February 16, 2014 - 7:29 pm

Hi Sharon. What beautiful photos and so needed here in the very wet UK! We have no garden yet as starting again so to see your display is heartening. So good to see colour at last, but as you say, it may be a short-lived beauty if the weather changes. All the more wonderful for that. Thank you for sharing your ‘pressed’ flower collection!

Kat February 16, 2014 - 7:50 pm

C’est une renaissance précoce !
de belles photos bien colorées…

Colleen Taylor February 16, 2014 - 8:20 pm

Let’s hope the frost will escape you Sharon. Our weather is gorgeous, some flowers are blooming, others on their way out for the impending heat. I had not thought of pressed flowers for a very long time. That is a fond memory for me. Lovely as always. X

Carolyn from Pittsburgh February 16, 2014 - 9:26 pm

Thank you for your mood board. First it just won’t stop snowing here in the US.
Second I have a lovely view from my fifth floor apartment but alas no garden, so
I really enjoy yours. (One of your berry photos let me smell the raspberries and hear
the bees, memories from my childhood home. I looked at it only a few days ago.)

Marsha @ Splenderosa February 16, 2014 - 9:29 pm

Even Houston has had a colder winter than normal, but I was just outside and see that everything is budding out. I feel like getting the gloves on and digging. Lovely photos, blooms in the raw! xx’s

Susan S. February 17, 2014 - 12:15 am

So glad you’re experiencing a milder winter this year. Visited Paris end of March-beginning of April last spring and it was frrrrr-eeeezing!!! We (NJ) on the other hand are buried on under snow with no end in sight …. I will live vicariously through your photos!

diana Alexander February 17, 2014 - 12:40 am

Lovely and hopeful Winter Board. For us here in Georgia, as Vicki from Athens writes, we have Atlanta totally shut down for 2 days last week with snow and ice. Yet today was almost 70oF and sunny. It’s just crazy!
J’adore your Guest Cottage! I must plan a trip to see you at some point.

Leslie in Portland, Oregon February 17, 2014 - 2:41 am

It’s not crazy…it’s climate change. Here in the temperate northwest of the U.S., we have bulb stems 3-4″ above the dirt and blooming Hellebores, but no other harbingers of Spring. (Maybe the 4 days of cold and snow one week ago caused a retreat!) Your Daphne Adore sprig is beautiful and so, I imagine, is its inimitable perfume. Thank you for posting such lovely reminders of what is to come!

Mariecapucine February 17, 2014 - 4:03 am

This presentation is so beautiful as you could make a tapestry of your photos !
Long live the Spring and Long live its gaiety . . .
All my sympathy,

Gillian Dry Paddocks February 17, 2014 - 8:19 am

Beautiful Sharon. Hellebores one of my favourites.
We are very very dry…..but it is summer after all, and there is good reason we are named Dry Paddocks. Glad for you winter has not been too severe, however the threat of late frosts is always a concern.

david terry February 17, 2014 - 10:04 am

Dear Sharon, those are all lovely. I expect you (and many of your readers) would really enjoy Elizabeth Gilbert’s (yes….she of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame) big, fat, and very engrossing novel “The Signature of All Things”. It’s the story of an early 19th century female botanist. Trust me, it’s far more interesting than you might assume from that description.

Hereabouts?….we’ve had the biggest snowstorm in thirty years. Forget about the hellebores and other winter “exotics” (“exotic” for North Carolina, at any rate); the snow’s so deep that you can’t even see the the terriers when they go bounding out the backdoor and sink into various snowpiles. For some reaso, the oldest (and predictably DOMINANT) female regards the snow as a complete/utter affront to her Queendom (which she routinely and belligerently prowls at least twice per day…..she keeps stalking around, continually growling and occasionally pausing to bark madly at a snow-covered boxwood.

Silly old dog……

By the way, I have a friend who very excitedly inherited a lovely display-book (or whatever you’d call it) of pressed-flowers, all artfully arranged in “bouquets” and made by her great grandmother over 100 years ago. She went all Martha-Stewart-y and framed about twenty of the pages so that she could hang them in two big blocks on her bedroom wall. She didn’t, however, go so sufficiently Martha-Stewart-y as to recognize that she needed to have put the pages behind UV glass (She was advised to do so, by me, but thought that was “too expensive”. What would I know about art preservation????).

It was a VERY short while before every single one of those pressed-flower arrangements faded to a dusty,parchment-colored shade of nothing in particular. Too Late to do anything about it now (which irritates me to no end, since I loathe waste, particularly when someone spends one day ruining what someone else patiently took years to make)

—-david terry

Esther George February 17, 2014 - 12:46 pm

Hi Sharon as always beautiful photographs. Well over on this side of the globe our gardens are not doing too well either. It started to rain this morning but the earth was so parched it’s going to take a while…. Oh my poor roses. All the bulbs do flower in Spring we have never taken them out of the ground for the past 15 years, my only disappointment is I have not succeeded growing Lily of The Valley I order them each year and nothing, I’m going to try one more time….fingers crossed X. Till next time Regards Esther from steamy Sydney.

david terry February 18, 2014 - 8:08 am

Dear Esther—-

“Steamy Sydney” isn’t a suitable climate for Lilies of the Valley (they like cold weather in the Winter; even if you get them to grow-at-all in Sydney, you’ll need to keep them in the shade).

Friends of mine in the American DEEP South (I live in North Carolina….the Upper South) havehad better luck, for some reason, with the pink-flowered strain of Lilies of the Valley……but pink flowers sort of ruin the entire point of the bulb for me.

You should contact (you can do this by email) the “questions” department of the American nursery (it’s a big, reliable one) “Spring Hill Nursery”; it’s inSouth Carolina, where conditions are more or less similar to yours, and they’re quite good at suggesting various hybrids that are more adapatable to “Steamy” conditions. They (as are the folks at White Flower Farms….also online) are very good/straightforward about telling you when you’re wasting your time/money….also at steering you towards suitable varieties/hybrids.

Lilies of the Valley (like delphiniums, Lupines, and any number of other enviable plants) simply don’t take to hot and/or humid climates. I gave up years ago and simply make a point of visiting friends up north during the Spring-time.

Best of luck (and contact Spring Hill ursery; it should be easy to find which American zone best corresponds to Sydney conditions)
—-david terry

Esther George February 18, 2014 - 11:31 am

Hi David thank you for that advice I hear you. You know at one stage I had visions of a Dogwood tree in my garden until the lady from the nursery advised…you will have the tree but no flowers. Regards Esther from Sydney.

david terry February 18, 2014 - 1:21 pm

Hey Esther…….even worse than not being able to grow dogwoods?…….having them die on you.

We live in a big, rambling, 220 year old house with enormous trees and, luck-of-all-luck, gardens that were completely (and with great effort, I hear) restored and replanted back in the forties.

Among the loveliest things in the garden are two very mature (old, by dogwood standards), large, beautifully symmetrical dogwoods that stand, just outside the broad kitchen widows (so they frame the view) on either side of the walkway leading to the rose garden.

I should have written “will have stood just outside”……since I noticed (and later confirmed) this past Summer that they’ve caught the fungus that’s ravaging dogwoods all up and down the east coast of the USA. They’ll be dead in a year or so, which depresses me to no end (particularly since don’t, thank you, want to replace them with those “Korean dogwoods”.

Well, as Henry Mitchell (a renowned horticulture-writer here in the USA) wrote: “Every gardener, even the most accomplished, eventually learns that gardening is inevitably a series of heartbreaking disappointments and disasters.”

At times like this, I tend to agree with him.

—david terry

The Well-Bred Woman in Progress February 17, 2014 - 2:06 pm

Such lovely photos! Now I must run out and see if my crocus have sprung yet.

Caterina B February 17, 2014 - 10:55 pm

What gorgeous flowers! You are saying that all those beauties are blooming in your garden NOW?
Here in Colorado we have had almost 3 feet of snow at our elevation of 7,200 feet in the
rockies. I just know that under all that some of my favorite flowers and shrubs are waiting
and getting ready for spring. But it will be almost 3 months before I see any of them.

CHOLLET February 18, 2014 - 7:49 am

Sharon, c’est magnifique, vraiment j’adore tes compositions de fleurs ! C’est frais, coloré, varié… Tout ça sur un beau drap de lin sans une miette de terre ! Bravo !
Bonne journée,


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